What are Configuration Management Activities in PMP?

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Last updated on
12th Apr, 2022
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12th Apr, 2022
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What are Configuration Management Activities in PMP?

Before getting into the details of configuration management in project management, it is important to understand that it is a subset of the overall project management system. When you search for configuration management pmp, you see PMP Course and Exam results. What you need to understand is that within project management, a configuration refers to features that characterize a final deliverable or product.  

It can include such things as physical and functional specifications. Color, weight, size, constituent materials, and shape are some features that are included in physical specifications. Functional specifications, on the other hand, refer to characteristics that enable the product to achieve a certain goal or outcome. This can be better understood by taking the example of a laptop. Physical specifications may include the color of the outer shell and the display specs of the screen. Functional specs may include things like how many calculations it can perform at any given time, or the time taken to start from a “shut down” state.  

A comprehensive project management professional certification course can help you develop an in-depth understanding of various aspects of the project management ecosystem, that you can apply in your work environment, as well as clearing the PMP exam. Let’s understand configuration management in some detail now. 

What is Configuration Management?

The design and development of any product are bound to be subjected to multiple changes during key phases of its design and development. Even if the detailed contract specifications and design plans are as robust as they can be, there can be no guarantee that the design and development of a particular product will not be subjected to numerous changes. This is especially so when a project is multi-contract, large-scale, and multi-phased. Changes can creep up in any area, including in the design standards, community and environmental requirements, delays or difficulties in project implementation, and areas related to complexities in project implementation. In order to get a better handle on navigating and dealing with these many complexities, project managers have begun to see the value of implementing the principles and practice of configuration management. 

Configuration management in project management refers to managing the configuration of the entirety of the project’s assets and products. These assets and products include the end products to be designed, developed, and delivered to the customer and management products, such as the performance management baseline and the project management plan. It is often the case that the implementation of project change management and configuration management go hand in hand. All changes need to be tracked and evaluated to determine their effect on the project configuration. 

What is The Goal of Configuration Management?

A configuration management scheme is a subset of the overarching project management system. The goal of configuration management is to most effectively and efficiently manage the basic constraints of time, cost, scope, and quality.  It is needed in projects where change management processes need to be implemented and signed off by the organization.  

Five Steps of The Configuration Management Process

Five Steps of The Configuration Management Process

The 5 steps of the configuration management process include:  

  • Planning 

During the planning for configuration management, CIs are identified. Then the configuration management plan is created and the configurations are recorded. The manner to manage the CIs is also elaborated. Further, when implementing an integrated change control workflow, the configuration management plan for the identified CIs must be followed. And, since the configuration management blueprint has the physical and functional characteristics of the end product, the integrity of the CIs must be maintained. 

  • Identification  

In this step, all the configuration requirements are identified and recorded. These requirements include design and functional requirements, among others. When this is done, the configuration baseline for the project is created. Then, any possible changes to the configuration requirements are listed based on CMS. This process helps to maintain the integrity of all the configuration items (CIs). 

  • Control 

If the scope of the project changes, its impact on the CIs must be evaluated, approved, and documented. This is routinely done within the larger project change control process. In this process, a team makes major changes to an approved project. Some changes that can happen are budget subtractions and additions, changes to goalposts and deadlines, or recruiting new members to the team. Project change control allows stakeholders to gain visibility into a project and agree on how basic project elements may be changed/revised when required. 

  • Status Accounting  

Configuration status accounting is used to maintain an audit trail and record of all changes of all the versions of the CIs. The status of every CI version is also recorded. Some examples of what the status may say include: 

  • CI Stage: the CI could be in any of the following stages: draft, approved, in-review, effective, not effective, obsolete, or retired.  
  • Pending changes: any pending changes to a CI are listed 
  • Approved changes status: any given change should have the necessary data against its record. 
  • Rejected changes: the status also reports on the number of change requests submitted and the number that was rejected and the reasons for it. 

For example:  

If the change in the scope statement is being approved, a record of the new version of the document needs to be created and maintained. After implementing the change, the configuration management system makes sure all the relevant stakeholders get the latest version of the updated document.  

The status can be viewed as a recording of all changes as they take place based on the configuration management blueprint. 

  • Verification and Audit 

The goal of configuration verification and audit is to ensure that the end product conforms to the configuration requirements. This process is a formal one and is usually conducted at least once for every product release. For instance, if you’ve built a product that needs to perform a specific action within 10 seconds, the audit is done to verify that the product can actually function within the expected time. It’s no surprise that audits and checks are usually conducted at the culmination of major project phases to identify issues early. 

Some elements to verify can include the following areas: 

  • Is the team recording and maintaining a record of all the changes 
  • Whether the team is managing the version of the CIs as defined  
  • Whether the system can create the old version of the CI without any hassles or issues. 

With configuration verification and audits, the composition of a project’s features can be verified. Also, all the changes can be seen to have been thoroughly and accurately registered, evaluated, approved, monitored, and implemented. Performing such as audit ensures that all the functional and design requirements defined in the configuration management plan have been met. Check out the 49 Processes of PMP. 

What is a Configuration Management Plan (CMS)?

A configuration management plan is created to serve as a comprehensive document detailing the configurations of a project. Project managers routinely use these configuration management plans to determine how to handle any changes in configurations, which are defining characteristics of a successful project. Configurations refer to the specific characteristics of a project’s end products or deliverables, and project managers aim to achieve the desired end state of the project when the project is completed. 

The configuration management plan defines the roles and responsibilities of all the staff involved in a project and also identifies and lays out the interactions expected between contractors, project staff, and consultants, among others. During the creation of a configuration management plan, all the project’s configurations need to be identified and recorded and the way to manage the configuration needs to be detailed.  

What if the Configuration Management is not Used in a Project?

The key usefulness of a configuration management plan is that it helps all stakeholders involved in a project to understand the project’s configurations. These plans are routinely used by project managers to identify and develop strategies that help to achieve the completion and end-state of a project. These plans are also useful to stakeholders of a project as it helps them to monitor the status of the project and its progress.  

Also, in the configuration management plan, all the items that are configurable or need formal change control are defined. The following details are mentioned in the configuration plan: 

  • All the configurable project items 
  • The items that require formal change control (example: WBS Dictionary or Scope Statement) 
  • The process of managing changes to these items.  

In the configuration management plan, a tool also needs to be laid out to be used to manage all the configurable items.  A clear versioning system is set forth to identify baseline CIs (configuration items). For instance, it helps to have a baseline of the project scope statement when there are multiple versions of the project scope statement. 

In addition, a configuration management plan may be applicable beyond project boundaries. This is true when the product that is being developed already exists before the design and development of the product or when the product continues to exist after the end of the project. In some cases, the life cycle of the product may contain many project life cycles. Sometimes, product level configurations also have a significant effect on the configuration management system, leading to two configuration management views: 

  • Project Level Configuration: these include things like project management plans, WBS dictionaries, etc. 
  • Product Level Configuration: these include things like user manuals that need to be maintained in subsequent projects. 

In short, a configuration management system ensures accountability, visibility, integrity, coordination, controllability, reproducibility, and tractability. 

On the software development side of things, CHEF, CFEngine, Ansible, Saltstack, and Puppet are some of the most popular configuration management tools. They help implement the configuration management plan in an effective manner. They can be easily integrated into the organization’s existing infrastructure and used to maximize project efficiency.

Manage Configuration to Maximise Efficiency

In conclusion, configuration management helps to minimize cost, performance, and schedule impacts to a project’s baseline. The basic steps to be performed include: 

  • Plan, design, and create the project implementation strategy and processes 
  • Detail the project's management workflows in a Project Management Plan 
  • Define the project's scope using a WBS and develop the baseline budget 
  • Correspond the WBS’ work packages to the baseline cost estimate for planned contracts 
  • Correlate the WBS work packages to the project’s schedule and establish the timing of the project elements and cash flow  
  • Keep the project baseline budget unaltered during project implementation to better assess cost performance 
  • Using budget transfers, develop and maintain a budget with an audit trail to correlate to the baseline budget 
  • Manage project implementation by contract 
  • Use a cost management system to reconcile the WBS and contract reports  
  • Define organizational responsibilities for contract management and change control 
  • Closely monitor change requests, proposed contract modifications, and change orders 
  • Use a configuration management system for contract monitoring and control the responses to changes on the project. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. What is the purpose of Configuration management?

Configuration management was first brought into practice by the US defense industry as a means to track the changes and control the impact of such changes on the time, cost, scope, and quality of the project.   

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